LA BIENVENIDA, Spain – Spanish politicians are swapping campaign buses for tractors, buddying up with hunters and inspecting home-grown tomatoes in Spain’s often-neglected rural regions as they hunt for votes in Sunday’s general election, one of the country’s most polarized votes in decades.
The ballot comes as Spain’s traditional bipartisan political landscape — which used to revolve around the left-wing Socialists and the conservative Popular Party — has fractured into five main political parties, including a far-right populist newcomer. That has spurred a race for votes in Spain’s overrepresented hinterland, where nearly one-third of the seats in parliament’s lower house are up for grabs.
Spain’s electoral rules grant a bigger say in parliament’s lower house to provinces with shrinking populations. A few thousand votes in these areas can swing a win for one party or another, turning the “every vote counts” cliché into a reality for candidates far from the big cities.